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When disaster strikes: Planning for the worst-case scenario

The equipment in the DSV-sponsored emergency relief warehouse is ready to be moved out within 48 hours when the world's largest disasters strike. The short response time is a matter of very careful planning and experience from fieldwork.

When a tropical storm devastates the lives of thousands of people or other disasters occur, there is often a call to the DSV-sponsored emergency relief warehouse in Taastrup, Denmark. The 2000 square metres in the warehouse is managed by Danish Red Cross and filled with technical and practical equipment for emergency response. The equipment is e.g. generators, toilets, equipment for clean drinking water, water heaters, tents and a range of different tools. You can even find refrigerators and survival knives with built-in fire starters.

What could possibly go wrong?

Red Cross must move out within 48 hours if disaster strikes. For that to happen, everything must run exceptionally smooth and it comes down to always being prepared.

To Jesper Ranch, Emergency Response Manager from Danish Red Cross, being prepared means primarily three things: 

  1.  Every single item is packed down into kits ready to be sent off
  2.  Every possible situation is thought through in detail 
  3.  Always, always have a plan B ready 

Smart packing 

Having DSV providing a large full functioning warehouse is crucial for Danish Red Cross’ ability to respond to a disaster situation 

A ‘kit’ consists of equipment packed tightly together in boxes with other items in the same category – items you will need in the same situation. Instead of having a box full of tents Jesper packs “sleeping/living kits”: Everything you’ll need inside your tent is packed together with one tent. And everything is packed in the exact order the delegates will need it: 

“You don’t want your tent at the bottom of the kit, of course. Because then you would have to dig everything out that goes into a tent before you can set up the tent in the first place,” Jesper explains.

No detail too small 

Jesper uses roughly 80% of his time thinking through all the possible ways an emergency relief situation can go wrong and he then packs the kits accordingly. 
“I get deliverances of equipment from 200 different suppliers. I need to spread everything out and put it all together in the right order. I need to know which items work well with each other, how to assemble things, how much space everything requires, etc.”

Hands-on experience is vital 

The rest of Jesper’s time, the roughly 20%, Jesper takes part in the relief work around the world. This experience is invaluable for him to do his job properly, and it is the reason Jesper always has a plan B:

“All the equipment needs to be easy to handle in situations, where you are alone and cut off from communications. The field is always different from what you expect. In the warehouse everything works – out there, not so much.” 

Service and flexibility are crucial to always be ready 

All in all, the warehouse sponsored by DSV holds some 60 tons of thoroughly-packed equipment, ready for the Red Cross delegates to quickly establish a base camp all over the world in every type of situation. 
“Having DSV providing a large full functioning warehouse is crucial for Danish Red Cross’ ability to respond to a disaster situation” says Jesper Ranch and adds “All the equipment can be ordered and packed in advance so it’s ready to go when the need arises”. 

The warehouse space has room for everything they need, also for the luxury of responding to more than one emergency at the time. The DSV warehouse provides the necessary service and flexibility for the Danish Red Cross to always be ready.